"I am cautiously optimistic that there will be steps toward easing sanctions against Russia. It is unrealistic to talk about the return of the delegation to the PACE in its normal stature, however, Russia may be grunted back its right to vote but not a right to organize meetings," Mariani, who is also heading a delegation of French lawmakers to Crimea, said.
He underlined that incumbent PACE President Pedro Agramunt stood for the return of Russia's delegation to the organization.
"PACE President Pedro Agramunt is someone who wants to find a solution. It it crucial to listen to Russia's opinion during any discussion on the Ukrainian crisis," Mariani said.
PACE barred the Russian delegation from participating in three key bodies – its bureau, presidential and standing committees – in 2014.
Russia left PACE in 2015 after the Assembly adopted several resolutions condemning Crimea's reunification with Russia as well as alleged Russia interference in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. PACE also imposed sanctions on the Russian delegation, barring Russian lawmakers from participating in PACE's three key bodies — its bureau, presidential committee and standing committee.